Artist inspiration: Jorge Chamorro on creating two-image collages

Hi Jorge! Tell us about what kind of work you do.

I’m a self-taught artist, graphic designer and teacher. I studied Audiovisual Communication in Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and after that I worked for ten years in some design studios and agencies until I became a freelancer designer in 2005. I discovered collage in 2006 and I began teaching design and collage in 2010. So, my work and my life are like three rivers that come from the same mountain; they take different directions sometimes, other times they cross each other, but they always complement each other. I love all three equally.

I'm not the kind of artist who's only working in teaching because they're not making enough money from their artwork. I wouldn’t be happy only making collage, only designing or only teaching. I like the mix and I need all of them.

What inspires you when you're creating your gorgeous collages? Where do your ideas come from?
That’s the big question without an answer, because I really don’t know where my inspiration comes from! To be honest I don’t really care about it, I only care when inspiration doesn’t come - which is very often. Usually I have quite a long journey before I have created something that I really like. For me to think my artwork is good, it has to end up being something that surprises me.

Although my collage work is very simple, straightforward and easy technically (usually I only use two images), it takes days or weeks of referencing books and magazines, cutting, playing with images… then the solution suddenly arrives quite quickly. I see very fast and intuitively when a combination of images works, but then I need days or sometimes weeks until I can put it all together.

What tools and software do you use to create these? How do you use them and what would you recommend to others?
Although I’ve made digital collages with Photoshop a few times and enjoyed it, 99% of my collage work is analogue. I think the surprise - which is for me the essential element of collage work - is easier to communicate through analogue than it is in digital collage.

My tools are a pair of scissors that I bought in a pharmacy (I've worked with the same scissors for the last ten years), a cutter (although I use the scissors much more often) and glue. I use two kinds of glue, depending on the size of the image I have to paste or the precision I need, either Spray Mount (permanent -red) and Fixo Gum. Fixo Gum is great because even once you’ve pasted, you can easily move the position of your work until you find one that you're happy with.

Which other artists do you think are doing great work in this space?
The collage scene has grown a lot since I began my work 15 years ago, and there are a lot more artists in the space. I like many people and I’m sure I’ll forget many I love, but some of my favourite collage artists are Isabel Reitemeyer, James Gallagher, Anegret Soltau, Sergei Sviatchenko, John Stezaker, Beni Bischof, and Anna Bu Kliewer

How do begin to conceptualise your collages?

I never work with concepts when I make collage. On the contrary, my collage work is totally free. I never say: “Today I’m going to make a collage about love”, for example. I just start seeing books, magazines, photos… until something catches my attention, until something calls me, still without knowing where I'll end up. I don’t pretend to communicate anything rational. I’m more interested in free association, in the subconscious, and in the feeling than in the meaning. As André Bretón said: “It’s not about understanding it, it’s about loving it”.

Your art feels so surreal in its juxtaposition of different subjects and imagery, how do you choose what to put together?

That’s the big thing in collage: what to put together. As Max Ernst said, collage is the spark we get when we mix two or more images. And that’s our fight as collage artists: the spark. I think it’s the fight in every kind of art, anyway. The process of finding he spark can last two seconds or two years. I have images, cutouts, backgrounds, etc, that I keep like treasures waiting to find their perfect match. It’s like everything in life, sometimes we find what we look for very quickly and easily and sometimes we need a long time and hard work until we get it. That’s the magic of collage, but also the magic of life.

Have you always liked to play with absurdity in your work?

Collage is the perfect medium for absurdity because through collage we can connect whatever we want, looking for the unexpected, looking for the surprise, for the mystery, for the surreal. So, if the connections are very rational, there’s no surprise, there’s no game, no fun. I guess every collage artist likes to play with absurdity, and I’m not an exception.

How can we find more of your work, do you have Instagram or a portfolio website?

My website is and my Instagram is _jorgechamorro